Martin glad to get Kiwis spot

07 October 2017 20:15:05 GMTPlus11

North Queensland Cowboys five-eighth Te Maire Martin will get the chance to cap a dramatic year by playing for New Zealand in the Rugby League World Cup.

Martin was named in the Kiwis' 24-strong side for the tournament, which helped him rebound from the disappointment of being on the wrong end of an NRL Grand Final defeat to Melbourne Storm last weekend.

The 22-year-old, who previously played for Penrith, is aiming to improve on his one-game record for the Kiwis after experienced five-eighth Kieran Foran was forced to withdraw from the tournament through injury.

Martin was expecting to return to Townsville for a post-season break, but will now be forced to delay his plans and head to New Zealand to prepare for the cup.

He will compete with experienced utility Thomas Leuluai and Bronco Kodi Nikorima for the five-eighth spot alongside Shaun Johnson.

Martin said: "It's a positive for both sides, a big experience. When I went on the Four Nations tour last year I learnt a lot."

Martin linked up effectively with Michael Morgan at the backend of the NRL season, but Johnathan Thurston will reclaim his spot when he has recovered from a serious shoulder injury.

The New Zealander, who linked with Morgan for the Cowboys' only try of the grand final, says his first thoughts when he arrived in Townsville was to learn of Thurston rather than play first grade.

He added: "That's my thinking for next year too. I know 'Greeny' (Cowboys coach Paul Green) will play the best team he can field, whether that's with me in it or not I'm happy."

The Cowboys could opt to use Martin mostly off the bench in 2018 ahead of Thurston's possible retirement.

Though he picked up a knee injury suffered in the final months of the season, Martin has declared himself 100 per cent fit for the tournament.

New Zealand are 1.19 to win their first game against Samoa, who are 5.00.

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